Yesterday, we talked about how thanksgiving can enhance our appreciation of the people in our lives, and enrich our friendships. I believe thanksgiving is important, for the difficult and challenging people in our lives also. They too can be a blessing to us, if we allow the Holy Spirit to be our helper on our journey to ‘walk as Jesus walked’ 1 John 2 : 6
Jesus displayed the fruit of the Spirit continually, thoughout His time on earth. This wasn’t just when surrounded by His followers and people who loved Him. We know that He was often challenged and threatened. He is the one ‘who endured such opposition from sinful men’. Hebrews 12 : 3 Yet as we observe Him in diverse and challenging situations in the gospels we are amazed. He stands head and shoulders above everyone, even at the end as He is being crucified.
For us, if we can embrace it, difficult people shine a light on where we need to grow. They expose where the difficulties are for us in manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. When we come across someone who causes us to behave, or think in ways that are ungodly, our natural reaction can vary. We can get very discouraged with ourselves, we can blame them or we can decide to avoid them. Alternatively we could choose to thank God that this person, has brought us into a place, where can see that we need to grow our new man in Christ in order to be more like Jesus. 1 John 2 : 6
In Galatians 2 : 20 Paul says ‘I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’. Colossians 2 : 6 says ‘So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness’. Verse 9 continues, ‘For in Christ all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form and you have been given the fullness of Christ, who is the head over every power and authority’.
We have all seen the bracelets WWJD. It’s a helpful reminder, but wearing such a reminder to DO What Jesus Would Do is not going to help if it just means I grit my teeth and ‘try to be nice’, try to produce the fruit of the Spirit. Instead Colossians 1 : 27 tells me that it is Christ in me who is my hope of glory. It is also Christ living in me by the Holy Spirit that is my only hope of responding to a situation as Jesus would.
So, when I am facing a difficult situation with someone, giving thanks to God releases the Holy Spirit within to bear fruit. To produce longsuffering, kindness, wisdom, strength, self control, in fact grace in whatever form I need it by His Spirit in my spirit. It’s the life of Christ within that is my peace, my joy, my ability to walk though the situation as Jesus would. Grace is not ‘dropped’ on me from above, but rises up from my spirit as I am filled by the Holy Spirit.
I can thank God for the situation and also for the person because they are the means He has chosen to work grace into my life in this particular season and in this particular way. They are a gift to me, helping me to grow. Suddenly they are not the ‘enemy’ but someone God is using to cause me to draw more deeply on the wonderful ‘Counsellor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby’ The Holy Spirit’. John 14 : 26 AMP.